First Day of Thai Birding - Drive To Kaeng Krachan with a stop at Pak Thale Shorebird Site

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April 3rd 2017
Published: July 14th 2017
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I started the day by getting up just after sunrise to have a look at what birds could be seen on the grounds of the accommodation. Although the ideal situation would be to leave very early in the morning to get some early morning birding outside of Bangkok and miss the rush hour, this of course would not be possible with my non-birding family who for some reason totally unknown to me wanted a lie in after a 24 hour journey. Anyway I got up early setting an alarm for just after sunrise which of course made me very popular. There were some cool birds around the grounds of the accommodation such as a loudly calling Coppersmith Barbet. I will post a list of birds in the Big Year thread (and link to it here when its posted) containing a full list of species seen subdivided into where I saw them so in all cases have a look at that for details of species seen.

Anyway, after everyone was up and after breakfast we left around 10:30 and headed out of Bangkok towards Kaeng Krachan National Park where we would be staying for the night but going via Pak Thale/Laem Pak Bia. There were a fair number of birds seen on the way, and the Sat Nav took us on a ‘scenic route’ over a bridge that still had metal cable sticking out of it. We soon reached the salt ponds which is the main wader spot and we stopped at a random pond along the way which had a large number of birds on it, and I added quite a few species there (again, see the list). We then went to the main wader watching site at Pak Thale which is famous for having Spoon-billed Sandpipers. However those are only really possible with a scope and I don’t have one, but I still saw a large number of species including Sand Plovers which are very prettily coloured and loads of Painted Storks flying overhead. We then stopped for lunch at a roadside place where there were a couple more little birds like a Pied Fantail.

After lunch it was getting quite late so I would have to choose one of the two other places in the area that I wanted to see (all of my prior information came from because we still had to drive to Kaeng Krachan to hopefully get there before sunset, these were a sand spit where you can hire a boat to see Malaysian Plovers or a large conservation project started by the former king. I decided the latter would be cooler, so I’d miss the plovers but I should see some other stuff the conservation area. It turned out that it was actually a very cool place. It’s free to get in there, and there is a bus that drives you around that is also free. It is an experimental natural water recycling area with some reed beds and big natural water treatment ponds and also a huge area of natural mangroves. I saw a lot of birds there including a number of interesting things in the mangroves ranging from birds to fiddler crabs to mudskippers and there is an extremely well-maintained and extensive boardwalk through the mangroves that the free bus drops you right in front of. Although it’s not a huge area, it’s very interesting to visit and I saw the spit from the end of the boardwalk at the see and I don’t think I missed too much.

By the time we had finished this, it was actually much later than we should have left, and by the time we got near the National Park it was dusk and it was dark when we arrived at our accommodation at Baan Maka Chalets near the national park. The funny thing on the journey there was that the turn off to get to the chalets was blocked by some military men who said we couldn’t go down that road and we had to go straight ahead, which was a military training ground. Of course the guards didn’t like us going into the training ground but eventually we managed to sort things out (helped tremendously because my mum speaks Thai) and we drove through a military training ground past the barracks and back onto the main road and it turned out that the road was being repainted. Eventually we got to the chalets in the dark and everything was fine. After dinner, I went for a little bit of spotlighting and I saw two species of frog and heard loads of stuff but I didn’t see any owls or nightjars as I was hoping (or mammals) probably largely because I had not seen the place in daylight so didn’t really know where I could go at night. I did find a third species of frog in my bathroom though so that was cool. I’m going to have a lot of frogs to try and identify.

Tomorrow I will be doing some birding at Baan Maka (which supposedly has lots of birds itself) and visiting Kaeng Krachan National Park. (Note: although this was written on the evening of the day itself, it was not posted then because there is no internet (or even mobile service) in the room at Baan Maka and some very slow internet in the restaurant, but I’m not going back to the restaurant just to post this.)

Note: the post is currently about 24 hours behind, and any spelling mistakes or typos are because I haven’t bothered to read through this at all. For this and future posts during my time in Thailand I won’t be reading through and going through with as much care as usual because I’m trying to get all the posts written while I’m travelling since I won’t have time when I get back.


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